This year was a record-breaker in much of the southwest U.S. and many areas of the world for drought. So what's to be done? We need water to farm, to drink, to survive. A French physicist is experimenting with what he calls "a very modest way of playing God." He's hoping lasers could bring on precipitation.
As part of Motherboard TV's "Upgrade" series, Jérôme Kasparian explains how lasers could be used to accomplish this feat on a localized level:
Kasparian says that "laser-assisted water condensation" would not bring water down from thin air. He explains for precipitating to happen, you need two thing: humidity and something for the water molecules to latch onto. Therefore, this laser technique would not work in an already dry, arid environment; it needs humid weather conditions to work. Using lasers to pulse in the atmosphere would change the electrical charge of particles, giving the water molecules something to stick to and fall down to earth.
This form of geo-engineering -- manipulating the environment to affect climate change -- is unlike other forms that have been proposed to reverse the effects of global warming in that it is more controlled with fewer unexpected changes to the environment. The lasers can be shut on and off and the showers would only span a few miles from where the lasers were shot.
Kasparian has tested the effects in Berlin and it has produced some changes in atmospheric precipitation.